MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?
“It’s the same series of signals over and over again!” marvels a male British voice at the opening of Man or Astro-man?’s latest album, Eeviac: Operational Index and Reference Guide, Including Other Modern Computational Devices (Touch and Go). We’ve all heard this line before–the baffled scientist alerting his colleagues to a mysterious radio transmission from another planet–but the sound bite also pokes fun at the relatively narrow groove traveled by this southern quartet over the years. Its melding surf punk and rickety 50s sci-fi hasn’t changed all that much since its 1993 debut on Estrus, but it’s good shtick, so who cares? In a curious way, those cold-war visions of the 21st century and beyond refract both the past and the future, offering a fun-house image of our technology-ridden present. On most of Eeviac, sampling and gee-whiz experimental electronics augment the band’s hard drive of frantic drums, outsize Dick Dale riffs, and cavernous reverb, and the last song, “—- / Myopia,” makes an epic journey into sweeping psychedelia. The Astro-men–Trace Reading, Birdstuff, Blazar the Probe Handler, and Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard–incorporate ridiculous flight suits, oversize flying-saucer gizmos, multiple TV sets, and 16-millimeter projections of grade-school astronomy films into their stellar live shows, and almost nothing can knock them out of character: last time I saw them a troublemaker in the crowd started a fight, and guitarist Dexter X (who’s since left the band) threatened to send him into the future. Friday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. J.R. JONES